Tertiary sector faces tens of thousands of job losses as job subsidy misses mark

The tertiary education sector is in danger of tens of thousands of job losses as workers and institutions fall through the cracks of the Government’s job subsidy scheme announced yesterday, said Dr. Alison Barnes, President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

Tertiary education institutions, which underpin Australia’s 3rd largest export industry and employ over 220,000 workers, are at risk of missing out on the job subsidy scheme announced yesterday. This, compounded by a drought of international student income means the sector faces a “triple whammy” which could send it into the abyss.

“Our sector was hit earlier and harder by COVID-19 than many others due to the decimation of international student income,” said Dr Barnes.

“We’ve been largely excluded from the job subsidy scheme announced yesterday. We’re looking at potential mass job losses on a scale like Qantas – we don’t want our sector on the scrap heap.”

“We’ve been calling for a targeted package for the tertiary sector since this crisis started. This needs to happen if we are serious about saving jobs.”

“Higher education is our third largest export industry. We are the sector that delivers the health and medical research to save lives, find vaccines and cure disease. We are the sector who can re-skill the workforce in a downturn.”

“We want to ensure that the sector remains in good shape to help with dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, as well as be a driving force in building our economic resilience as part of the nation’s recovery.”

“Now more than ever we call on all universities to engage with NTEU at a national level, and call on the government to provide funding for a jobs guarantee.”

The NTEU did, however, welcome the fact that the job subsidy program would be good for some smaller, private providers.

“There will be some English language course providers for international students (ELICOS), private providers and vocational education and training providers who will qualify for this subsidy, so this will go some way to protect jobs in those smaller institutions,” NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said today.

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